The 30 Best-Selling Novels of All Time

These books have sold tens or even hundreds of millions of copies.

circle

We get it: When you hear the word "blockbuster," you probably think of some handsome guy named Chris flexing his muscles across the big-screen. But as much as popular as those comic book movies are, that term can also apply to a great read as well. Herein, we've rounded up the 30 best-selling novels of all time. You've likely heard of them all, and have maybe even read a few. But you probably didn't know that tens of millions—and in some case, hundreds of millions—of other people have done the same. So keep reading to find out how many of these blockbuster books you have on your physical or digital shelves. And for upcoming memoirs penned by your favorite stars, check out 7 Must-Read Celebrity Books Coming Out This Year.

1
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

Don Quixote Cover
Ecco

Year released: 1612
Copies sold: 500 million

The most popular novel of all time, Don Quixote, is a testament to how great storytelling has no expiration date. The story follows a Hidalgo, Alonso Quixano, who proves that chivalry will, in fact, never die.

For foreign language terms you use regularly, check out 35 Commonly Used Words We Totally Stole From Other Languages.

2
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Tale of Two Cities Cover
Open Road Media

Year released: 1859
Copies sold: 200 million

Chances are, you read A Tale of Two Cities (or at least pretended to) in a high school class. It's no surprise that this novel has sold so many copies—it's practically mandatory.

3
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Lord of the Rings book cover
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Year released: 1954
Copies sold: 150 million

The best-selling fantasy novel series, The Lord of the Rings, has only grown in popularity since it was released, spawning a veritable armada of films, theatre, music, artwork, video games, and even board games.

To see where the feature adaptations fall on the list of the most acclaimed movies of the past 20 years, check out The Single Best Movie of the 21st Century, According to Critics.

4
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince book cover
Alma Books

Year released: 1943
Copies sold: 150 million

The Little Prince, a book about the perils of growing old by French aristocrat Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, has been translated into more than 300 languages and dialects.

5
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit book cover
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Year released: 1937
Copies sold: 150 million

This relatively brief novel set the stage for J.R.R. Tolkien's later work, The Lord of the Rings. In The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, we follow protagonist Bilbo Baggins and accompany him on a treasure hunt gone wrong.

For words you're probably getting wrong every time, check out These Are the Most Commonly Misspelled Words in the Country.

6
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone book cover
Bloomsbury

Year released: 1997
Copies sold: 120 million

In the first installment of the massively popular series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone—otherwise known as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone—a boy finds out, not only that he's a wizard, but that he's already famous in a world he doesn't know.

7
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe book cover
HarperCollins

Year released: 1950
Copies sold: 85 million

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is by far the most popular novel in the seven-book series The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. The series follows four siblings as they explore a magical new world they can access through an old wardrobe, with plenty of Christian symbolism for older readers to unpack.

For novels that translated incredibly well on screen, check out 23 Amazing Books That Made Even Better Movies.

8
She: A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard

She: A History of Adventure Book Cover
Forgotten Books

Year released: 1887
Copies sold: 83 million

Perhaps the most popular novel you've never heard of, She: A History of Adventure follows a professor and his colleague on a journey prompted by a shard of ancient pottery. While She is sometimes credited for a progressive view of women for its time, it also enforces ideas of racial superiority.

9
The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi

The Adventures of Pinnocchio
Sterling Children's Books

Year released: 1881
Copies sold: 80 million

The Adventures of Pinocchio, originally written in Italian, inspired the famous Disney animated version and cemented a colloquial association between long noses and liars.

For more book trivia sent right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

10
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Da Vinci Code book cover
Anchor

Year released: 2003
Copies sold: 80 million

This thriller by Dan Brown became a sensation when it was first published, even though it was actually the second novel to feature symbologist protagonist, Robert Langdon. The first was Angels & Demons, and both were adapted into films starring Tom Hanks.

11
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Kobo

Year released: 1998
Copies sold: 77 million

In the second installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry, Ron, and Hermoine investigate the origin of threatening messages written on the walls of Hogwarts and the attacker of several petrified students and staff. Enemies of the heir, beware.

12
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Scholastic

Year released: 1999
Copies sold: 65 million

During the third part of the series, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry is put in danger when someone from his past escapes a high-security wizarding prison, while Dementors threaten the well-being of students at Hogwarts.

13
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book cover
Scholastic

Year released: 2000
Copies sold: 65 million

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the fourth (and first really long) book in the franchise. It centers around the Triwizard Tournament, a highly anticipated event where students from two other wizarding schools visit Hogwarts so their finest students can compete in a series of tasks. But Harry and his friends start to suspect that someone sinister is pulling strings behind the scenes.

14
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book cover
Scholastic

Year released: 2003
Copies sold: 65 million

Harry develops a crush on classmate Cho Chang in the fifth part of the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and things seem to be going great—despite the fact that no one believes him when he swears that Lord Voldemort is indeed coming back. So, to prepare, Harry and his friends form their own group, practicing self-defense magic.

15
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book cover
Scholastic

Year released: 2005
Copies sold: 65 million

In the sixth installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry ends up in possession of a potions book that transforms him from a below-average student of Snape's to a truly remarkable one. Though, this greatness doesn't last for long after Harry realizes who the previous owner of his book, the Half-Blood Prince, really was.

16
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book cover
Scholastic

Year released: 2007
Copies sold: 65 million

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows brings the series to an end in a battle for Hogwarts—and the wizarding world as a whole.

17
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

The Alchemist book cover
HarperCollins

Year released: 1988
Copies sold: 65 million

The Alchemist, by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho, follows a shepherd boy named Santiago as he sets out to find the treasure that he dreamed about. Along the way, he encounters many characters who assist him in his quest.

18
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye book cover
Little, Brown and Company

Year released: 1951
Copies sold: 65 million

One of the most frequently discussed coming-of-age books of all time, The Catcher in the Rye centers on a disillusioned teenager named Holden Caulfield, who's been a hero to many a reader who also sees the hypocrisy in "adult" society.

19
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller

The Bridges of Madison County
Arrow Books Ltd.

Year released: 1992
Copies sold: 60 million

This best-selling romance takes place on a farm in Madison County, Iowa during the '60s and tells the story of a lonely, married woman who has a tumultuous four-day affair with a photographer from National Geographic who's in town to document its bridges. It's been adapted into a movie (starring Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep) and a stage musical.

20
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ book cover
Wilder Publications

Year released: 1880
Copies sold: 50 million

While you may be more familiar with the classic, Academy-Award-winning film, Ben-Hur, the book that inspired it was even more popular.

21
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

One Hundred Years of Solitude book cover
Harper Perennial Modern Classics

Year released: 1967
Copies sold: 50 million

Possibly the most well-known example of the magical realism style, One Hundred Years of Solitude follows several generations of a Colombian family after its patriarch founds a town called Macondo.

22
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita Book Cover
Crest Books

Year released: 1955
Copies sold: 50 million

As controversial as it still is, Lolita is still frequently read. Its narrator is also its protagonist—a middle-aged professor who becomes obsessed with his stepdaughter, a 12-year-old girl.

23
Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Heidi book cover
Nosy Crow Classics

Year released: 1880
Copies sold: 50 million

This Swiss children's book is about a young girl who goes to live with her grandfather after her parents pass away. It's been adapted several times over the years, first in a movie starring Shirley Temple.

24
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables book cover
Puffin Books

Year released: 1908
Copies sold: 50 million

Anne of Green Gables has inspired generations of young readers as it follows a girl who must overcome challenging obstacles with grit and gusto, which she always does.

25
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty book cover
Puffin

Year released: 1877
Copies sold: 50 million

Black Beauty is a "memoir" written from the perspective of the eponymous horse himself. It's considered one of the foremost pieces of fiction that discusses issues of animal cruelty and animal welfare.

26
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

The Name of the Rose book cover
Mariner Books

Year released: 1980
Copies sold: 50 million

If you're a fan of the Robert Langdon books, you should also check out this mystery thriller by Italian author Umberto Eco. It deals with similar themes and puzzles and is even more steeped in antiquity, as it's set in the 14th century.

27
The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins

The Eagle Has Landed book cover
Penguin

Year released: 1975
Copies sold: 50 million

This World War II novel was very quickly adapted into a feature film and continues to be widely read today.

28
Watership Down by Richard Adams

Watership Down book cover
Scribner

Year released: 1972
Copies sold: 50 million

Another much-assigned novel for high school students, Watership Down is an allegory heavy with meaning, starring…a warren full of rabbits, who develop their own intricate society.

29
Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

Charlotte's Web book cover
HarperCollins

Year released: 1952
Copies sold: 50 million

Countless children experienced their first literature-related cry while reading this novel about a girl named Fern who convinces her farmer father to let her keep a runty piglet named Wilbur as a pet and Charlotte, the spider who does everything she can to keep the little guy safe.

30
The Ginger Man by J.P. Donleavy

The Ginger Man book cover
Delta

Year released: 1952
Copies sold: 50 million

Considering its lead character is a young man who doesn't do much but drink to excess and have affairs, it's not surprising that The Ginger Man was banned in the U.S. and its country of origin, Ireland.

Ashley Moor
Ashley hails from Dayton, Ohio, and has more than six years of experience in print and digital media. Read more
Filed Under
Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE